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Did Doubling Reserve Requirements Cause the Recession of 1937-1938? A Microeconomic Approach

Author

Listed:
  • Charles W. Calomiris
  • Joseph Mason
  • David Wheelock

Abstract

In 1936-37, the Federal Reserve doubled the reserve requirements imposed on member banks. Ever since, the question of whether the doubling of reserve requirements increased reserve demand and produced a contraction of money and credit, and thereby helped to cause the recession of 1937-1938, has been a matter of controversy. Using microeconomic data to gauge the fundamental reserve demands of Fed member banks, we find that despite being doubled, reserve requirements were not binding on bank reserve demand in 1936 and 1937, and therefore could not have produced a significant contraction in the money multiplier. To the extent that increases in reserve demand occurred from 1935 to 1937, they reflected fundamental changes in the determinants of reserve demand and not changes in reserve requirements.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles W. Calomiris & Joseph Mason & David Wheelock, 2011. "Did Doubling Reserve Requirements Cause the Recession of 1937-1938? A Microeconomic Approach," NBER Working Papers 16688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16688
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:ucp:bkecon:9780226519999 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Calomiris, Charles W & Hubbard, R Glenn, 1995. "Internal Finance and Investment: Evidence from the Undistributed Profits Tax of 1936-37," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 68(4), pages 443-482, October.
    3. Charles Calomiris & David Wheelock, 1998. "Was the Great Depression a Watershed for American Monetary Policy?," NBER Chapters,in: The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, pages 23-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Frost, Peter A, 1971. "Banks' Demand for Excess Reserves," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 805-825, July-Aug..
    6. Charles W. Calomiris & Berry Wilson, 2004. "Bank Capital and Portfolio Management: The 1930s "Capital Crunch" and the Scramble to Shed Risk," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(3), pages 421-456, July.
    7. Charles W. Calomiris & Eugene N. White, 1994. "The Origins of Federal Deposit Insurance," NBER Chapters,in: The Regulated Economy: A Historical Approach to Political Economy, pages 145-188 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Hanes, Christopher, 2006. "The Liquidity Trap and U.S. Interest Rates in the 1930s," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(1), pages 163-194, February.
    9. Cargill, Thomas F. & Mayer, Thomas, 2006. "The Effect of Changes in Reserve Requirements During the 1930s: The Evidence from Nonmember Banks," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(02), pages 417-432, June.
    10. Romer, Christina D., 1992. "What Ended the Great Depression?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(04), pages 757-784, December.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Liquidity Regulation is Back
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2018-04-02 11:29:18

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Calomiris, Charles W. & Carlson, Mark, 2016. "Corporate governance and risk management at unprotected banks: National banks in the 1890s," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(3), pages 512-532.
    2. Tatom, John A., 2014. "U.S. monetary policy in disarray," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 47-58.
    3. Jaremski, Matthew & Mathy, Gabriel, 2018. "How was the quantitative easing program of the 1930s Unwound?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 27-49.
    4. Gabriel P. Mathy, 2014. "Uncertainty Shocks and Equity Return Jumps and Volatility During the Great Depression," Working Papers 2014-02, American University, Department of Economics.
    5. Douglas A. Irwin, 2011. "Gold Sterilization and the Recession of 1937-38," NBER Working Papers 17595, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Tsvetomira Tsenova, 2014. "International monetary transmission with bank heterogeneity and default risk," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 217-241, May.
    7. Robert A. Eisenbeis & George G. Kaufman, 2016. "Not All Financial Crises Are Alike!," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 44(1), pages 1-31, March.
    8. Jon Cohen & Kinda Cheryl Hachem & Gary Richardson, 2016. "Relationship Lending and the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 22891, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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